"The program gave me a close-up view of political, business and social issues and trends, information that is invaluable to me as an entrepreneur and active participant in the success of our great state. The speakers were incredible� they inspired us and stretched our minds. The opportunity to connect with successful and dynamic California women leaders was a main highlight. Being part of Leadership California is like being part of a powerful sisterhood."

—Ursula C. Mentjes, M.S., ACC
President and Certified Business Coach
Potential Quest, Inc.
"I have enjoyed my involvement with Leadership California. Our trip to the state capitol was most enlightening. As a result I have gotten involved with the Los Angeles African American Women's Political Action Committee. Thank you, Leadership California, for sparking a genuine interest in the political process."

—Shawn Farrar
Director Corporate Diversity
Sempra Energy
"The CIT program brings together successful women from all over California, and gives them the opportunity to build a network with other successful women. It's a way to learn about the important issues in our state, and to get ready to take the next step in your professional life."

—Isela Vilchis Hoenigmann
"Leadership California has provided me a panoramic view of issues, challenges and opportunities for this lovely state that I live in. The program was my introduction to women of unbelievable talent, experience and passion who are set to make a difference. The feeling to want to be more, to accomplish more, is simply contagious. I hope to know these women for the rest of my life."

—Rosario Montes-Arena
Manager, IBM Software Executive Briefing Program
Silicon Valley & Worldwide Briefing Program
"As a young immigrant woman working in the nonprofit sector, it was inspiring to see women leaders in action, to be able to network with them, and talk about the issues that are relevant to our communities and our state. I feel honored and privileged for the opportunity to participate in such an awesome program that weaves women leaders from different sectors and geographies of California to engage in a conversation about the social, political, and economic fabric of California."

—Winnie Hui-Min Yu
Development Associate
Asian Law Caucus
San Francisco
"I've spent half of my work life in the corporate world, and the past ten years in the nonprofit world, but neither taught me how to be who I am at work�the whole pastiche of talent and spirit. I found role models who excited me, the true state of our state of California (which frustrated me), work partners continually learning like me, and friends."

—Peta G. Penson, Ed. D.
Oakland Unified School District
"Leadership California sessions feature influential speakers and lively discussion on timely issues shaping the economy and workforce. The session on work-life balance struck a chord with me, where key leaders advised us to map out a personal career plan. Networking with other women was invaluable. Leadership California is an engaging and downright fun experience."

—Roberta Tinajero-Frankel
Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Dept.
Healthy Eating, Active Living Project Manager
"Simply put, Leadership California is time well spent that will benefit me personally and professionally for years to come. I've not only kept in contact with my fellow classmates on a social level, but have had opportunities to work with some of them on business projects as our professional paths crossed. The sessions gave in-depth looks at the critical social issues that many Californians face, inspiring me to get more involved in my community�s outreach programs."

—Teena Massingill
Manager of Corporate Public Affairs
Safeway Inc.


2015 CIT Session I

March 1-3, 2015

The Political Landscape: California's
Dynamic Government Today

AT THE STANFORD MANSION: At the state’s official reception center for leaders from around the world, the class attended a luncheon with speaker Cassie Doyle, Canadian Consul General in San Francisco/Silicon Valley.

AT THE CAPITOL: The class joined early birds at the Capitol for a breakfast meeting with legislators, a visit to the Governor's office, and conversations with women leaders on the floor of both the Senate and Assembly chambers.

MEETING THE CLASS OF 2015: On the first day of the session, alumna and Leadership California board treasurer DeNelle Ellison, right, welcomed Sue Bradham to the Session I orientation.

SENATE CHAMBER: A visit to the Capitol included opportunities to sit at Senators' desks and hear personal stories from Debbie Manning, California Issues & Trends alumna and Chief Senate Sergeant-at-Arms.

BRANDY BARRELS: The class enjoyed a facilities tour and dinner in the wine cellar at E. & J. Gallo Winery in Modesto. The company is the world's largest family-owned winery and the largest exporter of California wine. Above, the brandy warehouse.

BEARING UP: Convening in the Governor's private Council Room, the class met with high-ranking women staff members. Above, the class posed with a brass bear outside the Governor's Office.

SENATOR AND SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: A breakfast with Capitol Leaders was presided over by Senator Holly Mitchell, center, and introduced by Chief Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and Leadership California former president Debbie Manning. At left, Pam Hemann.

Welcome and Orientation    

Alumnae Ezilda Samoville, Myesha Jackson and DeNelle Ellison prepared to greet the Class of 2015 along with Leadership California Executive Director Pam Hemann, second from left.

Jackson helped with registration, and later gave the Class an overview of the session and what to expect from the CIT program. She is chief consultant, California State Assembly Human Services Committee.

Alumnae Judith Kjelstrom, Ph.D. (’08), Director, Biotechnology Program, University of California at Davis, left, and Kathryn Rees ('13), right, met class member Carla Castilla.

Class member Linda Lu met Leadership California alums at registration.

The sixty women in the class of 2015 got busy with conversations before the session.

Pam Hemann convened the class and gave highlights of the organization's history.

Leadership Point of View
with  Janice Doucet Thompson, Ed.D.

"Leadership Point of View" was introduced by Janice Doucet Thompson, founder and principal of JD Thompson & Associates, LLC. Thompson defined her topic as the ability to communicate ideas and personal values about leading and motivating others.

An exercise with colored sticky-notes brought out values we hold that contribute to leadership strengths.

Participants were encouraged to write down and organize the specific events and people that influenced their leadership journey.

Class members got acquainted as they shared their personal stories and leadership values one-on-one and with the group.

Part of the work included drawing illustrations of leadership attributes, then playing a guessing game with neighboring tables.

Sharing artwork with other groups revealed similarities. Hearts, eyes, and lions represented caring, vision, and courage as valued leadership attributes.

Legislative Issues Overview    

Pam Hemann, left, introduced Fredericka McGee ('05), Deputy Chief of Staff & General Counsel, Office of the Speaker California State Assembly, and Deborah Gonzalez ('07), Chief of Staff, Senate Republican Caucus.

McGee and Gonzalez discussed the different lenses through which Democrats and Republicans view the State of California's fiscal policies, the budget, reserves and spending.

Partisanship does not prevail, said Gonzalez, even though California state-level elected office holders are currently all Democrats. "The middle is becoming so broad right now. Some of the principles and goals are the same."

State of the State
with Raphael Sonenshein, Ph.D.

Presenter Raphael J. Sonenshein, Ph.D., Executive Director, Pat Brown Institute, California State University Los Angeles, gave an overview of the big issues facing the state and the nation. Pam Hemann, right.

Sonenshein addressed the current conversation on the importance of government, an issue that often divides us. "What role should government have?"

"In the battle over government, it's pretty hard to find a middle ground," said Sonenshein. "Is government part of the problem, or part of the solution" to the state's, and the country's problems? California is central to that battleground.

"All fights boil down to the economy, and who's going to control it," he said.

The class had plenty of questions after Sonenshein's presentation.

The Pat Brown Institute preserves and promotes the legacy of Governor Edmund G. Brown, the current governor's father, who championed housing rights for minorities, enhanced California's water system, and presided over a Golden Age of higher education in the state.

Luncheon at the Leland Stanford Mansion with Cassie Doyle    

A bus trip brought the Class to the Leland Stanford Mansion, a few blocks from the Capitol.

The mansion is a stunning example of the splendor and elegance of the Victorian era in California. After a 14-year, $22 million restoration, the mansion is now open to the public as a museum.

Three governors have called the Stanford Mansion their home. The mansion now serves as the State’s official address for diplomatic and business receptions.

Cassie Doyle, Consul General of Canada, San Francisco/Silicon Valley, addressed the class. The leadership of California is important to the world, and leadership can be learned, she said.

Doyle believes that women are the masters of organizational culture at work, and are good at collective leadership. "'Team' is not a spoke and wheel, with everyone reporting to me—it's collaboration," she offered.

Class members posed for pictures with Doyle in the dining room.

A Visit to the Central Valley
and E&J Gallo Winery

On a trip to the Central Valley's E. & J. Gallo Winery, the class arrived to a show of peacock finery on the front steps of Gallo headquarters.

Portraits of founders Ernest and Julio Gallo are featured prominently in the lobby of the family-owned company, the largest winery in the world.

The company's atrium features tropical plants and koi pools.


A brandy warehouse visit, a bottling facility and the company store were on the tour. 

A long walk down to the wine cellar brought the group to a wine reception and dinner in the barrel room.

Red and white wines from one of many Gallo brand lines were poured to kick off the evening.

Class members posed with the company founders in the wine cellar.

Tables for the elegant dinner were placed between rows of casks in the wine cellar.

Featured speaker was Stephanie Gallo, Vice President, Marketing, E. & J. Gallo Winery.

A Visit to the State Capitol:
Breakfast with Capitol Leaders

The Class of 2015 made an early-morning visit to the Capitol to receive an insider's view and to attend a breakfast with legislators in the Eureka Room.

Senator Holly Mitchell, left, presided over the meeting, where she introduced legislators from both houses. Senate Chief Sergeant-at-Arms and former Leadership California president Debbie Manning attended.

Each elected leader presented their legislative priorities for 2015. A Q&A followed. Above, Assemblymember Patty Lopez.

Capital leaders were seated at tables for casual but meaningful conversations. The event provides an opportunity for class members to meet elected leaders in state government. Above, Assemblymember Cheryl Brown.

Assemblymember Shirley Weber

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, standing; seated at front, Assemblymember Jim Wood.

Assemblymember Richard Gordon

Assemblymember Kansen Chu

Senator Bob Wieckowski

A Visit to the State Capitol:
Governor's Office - The Legislative Process

Outside the Office of the Governor, class members paused in front of the California Bear.

In the Governor's private council room, the class studied the legislative process with a presentation on "Making Law and Getting the Work Done" with Diane Boyer-Vine, Legislative Counsel for California.

Panelists from the Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. were Lark Park, Senior Advisor on Higher Education; Martha Guzman Estevez, Deputy Legislative Secretary; and Camille Wagner (’13), Legislative Secretary.

A Visit to the State Capitol:
Convene on Assembly
and Senate Floors

Class members snapped photos in the assembly chamber.

Debra Gravert, Chief Administrative Officer, Assembly Rules Committee, addressed the class as they sat in Assembly members' seats. "Honor the institution, know the rules, and take the high road" were bits of advice she offered.

Class members visited the Senate Chamber, where they heard the leadership story of Debbie Manning, CIT alumna, former board member and president of Leadership California, and now Chief Senate Sergeant-at-Arms.

The class took Senators' seats, a rare privilege. The Senate is made up of 40 Senators, each representing approximately 850,000 people.

From the heart of state government at the Capitol, the class studied the complex issues that make governing our diverse state so challenging.

Issues of the Day:
California Budget and
Public Higher Education

Diane Cummins, right, Special Advisor to the Governor, Department of Finance, talked about the state's budget in terms of the Governor's priorities and values. Pam Hemann is at left.

A panel discussed the landscape of higher education in the state.

Panelists were, from left, Erik Skinner, Deputy Chancellor, California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office; Sandy Fried ('00), Associate Director, Legislative Affairs, State Government Relations, University of California Office of the President; and Karen Y. Zamarripa ('94), Assistant Vice Chancellor, Advocacy and State Relations; MPPA, California State University.





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